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Stephen Jones: ‘Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion’ by C Piers

Stephen Jones: ‘Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion’

The milliner, 57, on being gay in the 80s, making hats for horses, and how everything he experiences gets used in a hat

Every single thing I do gets logged in my brain and eventually gets used in a hat. Whether it’s a conversation, the colour of the sky or the smell in the air. I grew up in the Wirral peninsula. It was our house, then the road, then the sea. All I remember is the sunset and the sky and the water – it still inspires me.

Boarding school helped shape my career. Aged 10 I went off to [board at] Liverpool. It made me very bloody-minded and made me think that if you want to have something you have to go out and get it yourself. But it also taught me reliance on one’s friends and how to work with a group of people.

Children are intrigued by watching people put things on their head. It’s a primary act of being. When I made hats for the Princess of Wales, I would go to St James’s Palace and her two young sons would be fascinated by what was going on.

Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion. After art school I lived in a squat on Warren Street in London with 20 people. We were always stealing each other’s clothes. Boy George lived there for a while, Grayson Perry was always over. In a funny way it was like boarding school.

I feel very privileged to be alive. I never thought I’d turn 30, let alone 40. I grew up as a gay man in the 1980s in the advent of Aids and HIV. We didn’t really know what it was and suddenly people were dying. So many friends in London and New York passed away.

L’Wren Scott continues to be an inspiration for me every day. I often think: “What would L’Wren think of this?” and remember times we had together and have a chuckle. We met when she was a model in Paris. When she started going out with Mick Jagger, I began to make his hats.

I didn’t come out to my parents until I was 40. My mum went a bit crazy, but then she met my husband Craig [Jones’s partner of 25 years] and realised he was a new son-in-law and fresh meat. So she started asking him to put up shelves.

I’m still friends with John Galliano. We don’t see each other much, but we text. It’s been a very long journey for him and I don’t think he’s over it yet. He hit rock bottom, so he now has a chance to get better.

A quick death is great, but then you may not say the things you want. Just before my father died he hadn’t spoken for a month. I had a one-sided heart-to-heart with him and apologised for not going into the family business. Out of nowhere he said: “We never imagined you would.” There I had been thinking he was this uncool tyrant when he was on my side all along.

I’ve made hats for horses, hats for dogs. The strangest hat I ever made had dry ice in it, which is incredibly dangerous, as it can burn you like acid.

Hats can transport you to another place. So that girl at Royal Ascot who’s wearing a giant hat, a fuchsia dress that’s too tight, heels that she can’t walk in – maybe that’s the one day she really goes bananas. We need more of that in the world. 

Stephen Jones is stocked at Dover Street Market (doverstreetmarket.com)

Thank you to The Guardian, Click Here.

 
Millinery Shapes and Style for 2014

More than ever you will be seeing Veiling, including well constructed pieces around the eyes. Go for a stiffened look and not a whimsical piece of lace. Veiling over the eyes has been sported over the past couple of years, but now we are looking for stronger stiffened pieces.

Different Shapes such as the Mohawk that has been sported in the past couple of year, but taking a contemporary look at your headwear rather than traditional shapes can make a stand out statement. Make sure your Millinery has been made by a Master Milliner as these pieces can look very costume or home made if not made correctly with statistics that will balance correctly.

Above Stephen Jones Millinery for Louis Vuitton

Above Mohawk, Kim Fletcher Millinery Art 2014

Lace is going to be everywhere this year, as so many Milliners have been taught this technique over the past year. It will be important to keep your lace very individual to your outfit or subtle. Too much lace this season will be an overload. Say goodbye to lace ears and any ears of for this season it is outdated for 2014.

Goodbye to Lace ears and ALL EARS.

Art is the main focus for 2014 when you look at D & G painted dresses and the look of oil painting is going to be huge. I sported a POP Art Inspired Hat at Darwin Cup and has has immense positive feedback. Keep pop art cool and fun. If you wear an outstanding hat make sure that the outfit is toned down to keep the hat the focus.

Head for ART,  Pop Art, Impressionist, Surrealist, as long as it is painted or has the feeling of Visual Art inspired, it will be a hit.

Goodbuy Gatsby, Gatsby was the trend that really had to be done before it was a trend. So the cloches and jewelled headwear are to stored for party looks and night club attire.

 

There is huge controversy in Millinery at the moment simply because there are so many calling themselves Milliners. I think go with what you know. I purchase hats that I know will be investment pieces, but I do expect to pay for them. A good hat that will last the distance of time will set you back around $800 but you will be wearing it time after time. I add up how many times I wear a piece and divide it. So thus the wear if I wear it 5 or 6 times comes down to $120, $150 per wear. The cheaper pieces are not always so well constructed and you expect to pay from $200 - $300 per hat. Sometimes they are not going to last the distance, but for a fashion item, you may only be able to wear them a couple of times and are usually out by the next season.

 

 

 

 
Felicity Northeast Millinery

I was always interested in textiles and art while growing up, many a weekend was spent on a new

creative project. However as a career, I followed my other passion in science and enjoyed practising

as a Paediatric Dietitian.

Throughout this time I continued to sew and do short courses in a number of textile areas, including

silk painting, pattern drafting and the good old knitwit. It was after attending a Millinery exhibition

that I realised the enormous scope of this art and I enrolled in a few short courses. I then went

on to complete cert 4 in millinery at Kangan. I had a range of fantastic teachers including Louise

Macdonald, Serena Lindeman, Kim Fletcher and Peter Jago, whose enthusiasm was infectious.

I continued working as a Dietitian, when I started my millinery business. Each year I would take off

more of my holidays around Spring Carnival (great work agreement!) and then the passion took over

and now I am only doing millinery

1. As a young lady were you attracted to hats or an era?

I was generally attracted to the current fashion, but as I sewed most of my clothes I would

hunt for interesting materials and trims. I often used upholstery materials and would indulge

on buttons.

My interest in hats began early in my working career. I can still remember my first hat I

bought for the races. It was from a milliner and I splurged! Yes, a few years later I pulled it

apart to see how it was constructed.

2. What was your defining moment that you decided you wanted to study Millinery

Further eg: Kangan

After a few short courses in millinery I was hooked, as I realised how many textile and

sewing techniques could be incorporated. I loved the idea of being taught by different

Milliners, all passionate and inspiring, with their own style of millinery. I had always taken

extra study as a Dietitian so, taking on further study for millinery at Kangan just seemed

natural.

3. Your collections have been unique, classic and distinguished, how do you describe

your work and what inspires you?

I aim to make pieces that are artistic, stylish and elegant. I focus on the shapes, structure

and lines within the piece and want the trim to compliment these. But I love a few special

details on a piece such as gorgeous stamen or some vintage netting

My main inspiration are the materials themselves, just seeing how they flow and how you

can manipulate them. I really enjoy experimenting with fabrics and techniques and seeing if

I can just use them a little bit differently.4. What are your favourite fabrics/mediums to use?

My favourite fabrics are vintage: Japanese hand painted silks, braids, straw clothes or fine woven

straws. I love blending these materials with contempory ones to give the hat a modern feel. I am

also fascinated how colour, colour combinations and different textures can totally change the

feel of a piece.

 

5, You won a 'trifecta' or 'Hat trick' on Blue Diamond day with your hats. 3 in all 3

categories taking out all the winning positions. How amazing and special is it and please

elaborate on your clients.

It was totally unexpected as I was only aware that one client was entering (and she decided to

change categories at the last moment), so it was wonderful surprise. I generally attend this race

meet, as I love catching up with people after the hectic spring carnival (and actually see a race).

The millinery is only one component of FOTF, those ladies styled their outfits beautifully, but it

was great to share in their excitement.

6. Your work is becoming more and more seen. Your work is very individual are you

aware of the following you have?

No not really, too busy with millinery and life, but with social media you get these little nice

insights when people you weren’t aware following you make a lovely comment.

7. Your enthusiasm with your hats is infectious, this must be such a rewarding career. How do

you feel making hats?

It certainly is a passion and does take over. I love the textiles, the scope within this art, the range

of learning from millinery to social media and business. You can create a piece in so many ways.

It’s great that’s it’s an art that can been worn and that when my clients are wearing a hat they

are generally having a great time

8. When designing do you have a customer in mind as your hats suit all ages?

When designing I do think about what my clients, but not necessarily their age group. Within

each collection I will include hats that will suite different face shapes, a few different themes

and different feels, so I can meet the needs for the lady entering Fashion on the Field to those

attending a business lunch during Spring Carnival. I often have in mind the current fashion and

trends and which type of outfits will go with a particular piece. But it’s even better when a client

sends in a picture and they combined the hat fantastically well, often in a different combination

then I had envisaged.

Even though I do plan each collection, some hats do evolve differently than first thought and I

will let it take me on that journey. Sometimes they are the best.

9. What are your goals and aspirations with this craft

To continue and improve, and to keep developing my own signature on Millinery. Saying yes to

projects that I hadn’t planned, such as doing a piece for The Johnston Collection exhibition and

working with various Australian artists on The Manyung Gallery Art Series.When I started, I was certainly not aware where this journey would take me and my supportive

family.

 

10. What is beauty to you? Nature, City, Gallery, Coffee, what is your muse?

I love wallpaper and textile designs, they are creative but also have that element of repetition.

The work of William Morris and Florence Broadhurst are few of my favourites.

Our typical holiday is bush walking in a national park, a great way to think of ideas and be

inspired by the flora and landscape along the way. One year I swapped heels for hiking boots

straight after Oaks Day and 12 hours later we were hiking Cradle Mountain.

A good coffee and music helps too.

 
Designer hats an investment from the heart by Stephen Crafti

Serious style: Milliner Naomi Goodsir is making a name for herself in Paris

As a child Alison Waters dreamed of owning a wide-brimmed hat, as worn by Madeline in the children's book of the same name by Ludwig Bemelmans.

"I still love the image of the all the girls, including Madeline, lined up in two rows, wearing their hats."

Waters' passion for hats increased exponentially when she set off for London in 1972 after landing a job in public relations with Biba.

"I loved going to the Rainbow Room (a 1930s-style restaurant) at night dressed head to toe in Biba," says Waters. Some days, she would wear Marlene Dietrich-inspired gowns, other times in suits reminiscent of Lauren Bacall, always with the appropriate matching hat.

When Waters wasn't working at Biba, she could be found fossicking for designer hats in the flea markets and second-hand stores. In those days, there was little competition for second-hand Jean Muir and Chanel hats.

A Christian Dior hat from the 1950s, bought at a flea market in Paris for a couple of hundred dollars, is now thought to be valued at over $2000.

By the 1980s, Waters' hat collection included Stephen Jones, Christophe Coppens and those by Issey Miyake.

A few Australian milliners are also included in Waters' collection such as Gregory Ladner and Naomi Goodsir, the latter now making a name for herself in Paris.

Many of the hats purchased by Waters are evocative of the style worn by literary figures from the past, such as Edith Sitwell, a poet from the 1930s.

Although Waters has hats by some of the world's leading milliners, she doesn't see her hat collection as 'archival'. Her 500 hats fill her apartment in South Yarra, Melbourne.

Stacked on shelves, displayed as object d'art and even found in her bath through a shortage of storage.

Some of the hats are packed in boxes, lined with acid-free tissue paper.

"I buy what I love and I wear hats every day. But I am tired of people asking if I'm off to the races, well out of racing season," says Waters, who enjoys quoting Sir Stephen Jones' phrase that 'a hat is not merely put on, but is something you become'.

Waters' collection includes a doll-size hat, given to her by a neighbour. There's a Stephen Jones' black-feathered hat, with a mischievous looking bird-like peak.

"I love hats that have a story, as well as some humour," says Waters, picking up a hat made from a jaguar skin, previously a worn rug in the living room of her home.

A black-layered tulle number by John Rocha is as treasured as a 1950s hat found in Townsville while attending a music festival. Then there are the historic pieces, such as the gold and jewelled hat worn by Vivien Leigh when she came to Melbourne in the 1950s. "That's another story," says Waters.

While some hats have been purchased for a few dollars, others have cost in excess of $1000.

"I think the most I've paid for a hat is around $1800."

Up for auction

Shapiro Auctioneers in Sydney and Melbourne rarely gets prices north of $500 for designer hats, even though they seldom appear on the auction block.

"We sometimes include hats as part of our fine jewellery and luxury design auctions. We've sold hats by British milliner Neil Grigg from the 1950s through to the 1970s, as well as pill box hats by Christian Dior from the 1950s," says managing director Andrew Shapiro, who says the price is usually determined by the condition.

"Collectors tend to keep their hats in their original boxes," he adds.

While Shapiro has noticed younger women in their 20s and 30s donning hats, an increase in sales has not yet occurred.

Likewise, the market for designer hats is stronger in cities such as London, where hats are more frequently worn, as well as collected.

Christine Barro, owner of Christine in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, is the only stockist in Australia for leading British milliner Philip Treacy.

His artistic creations, akin to fine sculpture, sell for between one and two thousand dollars. Treacy's limited edition designs head north of this figure.

"Philip is an inventor of form. Each hat is created by hand," says Barro, pointing out the different perspectives.

"There's a separate front and back. It's not the one continuous form," she adds. And like sculpture, Barro's clients tend to display Treacy's hats on tables and shelves in living rooms when not worn for the racing season or special events.

"These hats aren't just bought for one season. They're a lifetime addition to one's wardrobe," says Barro.

Suzana Milovanovic, who heads the jewellery department at Leonard Joel Auctioneers which includes pre-owned high-end luxury bags and accessories, rarely sees hats from designers such as Philip Treacy appear at auction.

"Designer hats are still a relatively new market for us. Occasionally, we might see a hat by Chanel or by Dior," says Milovanovic.

However, she suggests those looking for or wanting to sell a designer hat of this calibre look around the time of the spring racing carnivals.

"At this time, sellers will get better prices. You tend to attract a broader audience, rather than relying on the hard-core collectors," she says.

For collectors such as Waters, it's not the price that determines her next acquisition.

"Hats are a personal statement. I put a hat on, and, like Stephen Jones says, 'I become someone else'."

Racing Fashion, "I had no idea Neil Grigg was British?  I certainly will not be displaying my Philip Treacy Hats in my lounge as they would fade very quickly."

 
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